Friday, 11 April 2014

Church Times on the links with South Sudan

The Church Times has a news report by Madeleine Davies ‘We face attacks if C of E marriage policy changes’

BISHOPS in South Sudan have confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings…

On Tuesday, the Bishop of Maridi, the Rt Revd Justin Badi Arama, verified this report. “Gay relationships in the Church of England would mean the people of South Sudan going back to their traditional religions which do not take them to same-sex practice,” said. “Secondly, there would be continued violence against Christians [in the fear] that they would bring bad and shameful behaviour or homosexual practice, and spread it in the communities.”

Any change would lead to a rift, the Bishop of Wau, the Rt Revd Moses Deng Bol, warned on Wednesday. “The Church of England blessing gay marriages will be dangerous for the Church in South Sudan, because people here, like many African countries, strongly oppose gay marriages. And so they would want the Church here to break relationship with the Church of England.

“As a Church, we need to remain united as a body of Christ. We must be mindful of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world when taking decisions, because what affects one part of the body affects the whole body as well.”

Bishop Arama concurred: “As South Sudanese, we very much value the partnership, and all the efforts of the Church of England to support the Church in Sudan during all the difficult moments in our history. Same-sex practice would distort this long history, because light and darkness cannot stay together.

“It is our prayer that the Church of England should not follow the world into darkness, but lead the world into light.”

But the online version of this story has been updated since the paper edition went to press, with this additional passage, expressing a slightly different view:

On Thursday, the Bishop of Cueibet, the Rt Revd Elijah Matueny Awet, said that, if the Church of England blessed gay relationships, Christians in South Sudan would “go back and worship their traditional beliefs and Gods [rather] than worshipping the true God. . . Islam will grow rapidly in South Sudan because of the pagan believing on same-sex marriage.”

He argued, however, that it would not lead to reprisals in South Sudan, which would take a different path to that pursued in the West.

“We have been described by English people and American that we are a rude community . . . The question now, is who is rude now? Is it the one who is claiming his or her right? The one who is forcing people to accept his behavior?”

The leader column, which is behind the paywall, includes the following comment:

…But gay people are victims, too, and Archbishop Welby’s comments on LBC (News) involved the Church of England in their plight. It is unfair to accuse him, as some have, of allowing the C of E’s policy on same-sex marriage to be dictated by evil men. The nearest parallel is with hostage-takers. You do nothing to upset them, all the while resisting the desire to appease them. It is an agonising situation, felt keenly by the Archbishop, despite his ambivalence, to put it no more strongly, on the subject of same-sex relationships.

For all that, it is unlikely that the Church of England’s restraint will be matched by the murderous militias in Sudan, the DRC, and elsewhere. It assumes an unlikely degree of patience and sophistication on the part of the gunmen to suppose that they might understand the nature of the Church’s relationship with the state, its tolerance of principled dissent among its clergy, and the lack of a juridical bond between the different provinces of the Communion. The assumption that Christianity and Western decadence are cut from the same cloth has long plagued the Church’s relationships with its neighbours in Africa, the Middle East, and countries such as China…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 7:34am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England
Comments

So, African Christians are like hostage takers, whom we should be careful not to upset in case they start shooting?

Racism of low expectations.

And it also ignores that one of the main reservoirs of homophobia in Africa is the Christians themselves.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 8:55am BST

"The nearest parallel is with hostage-takers. You do nothing to upset them, all the while resisting the desire to appease them"

While I accept the parallel, Jeffrey John would be an example where the resistance gave way. Or do we end up in the numbers game? For the message we got immediately before the Dromantine meeting of Primates was that we were a small enough group to be sacrificed, in the short to medium term, for the greater good.

Fr Joe, as an RC observer, has some perceptive comments on earlier threads. I suspect he understands the realpolitik guiding the present manoeuvres.

As other have also commented earlier, Welby urges the decision to be made in a world wide context that overwhelms the aspiration to see gay people treated with equal dignity, It is all only too familiar. To the horror of his friends and supporters, this became Rowan Williams' mantra and one suspects that it sits well with Welby too. The idea that there is an Anglican Church, also a Rowan invention, also seems to appeal.

But despite Norway bucking the trend last week, those Churches we are closest to in terms of recognition are moving towards gay marriage, and Norway does allow blessings. So setting aside the Churches that don't recognise our orders - indeed Welby sees their theology on my women as "wrong" - indeed Churches that don't see us as a "Church" at all - perhaps the oecumenical world of the CofE looks rather promising for gay equality!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 9:17am BST

So there is truth in the Archbishop of Canterbury's linkage. Instead of being vilified he should be duly recognised for pointing out the possible cause and effect that certain actions in England may have in the rest of the world. Alas persecution is all too great a reality for Christians throughout the world and in some cases leads to martyrdom. Archbishop Justin in his statement was simply witnessing to the witnesses.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 9:29am BST

"Same-sex practice would distort this long history, because light and darkness cannot stay together."

This is homophobia incarnate--and it is coming from Christian bishops!

Why should gays in England be prevented from marrying, because bishops in the Sudan are homophobic? If they do not attend Lambeth 2018, then there's always Lambeth 2028, 2038, and 2048.

Should people in England really be prevented from marrying, because bigoted foreign prelates refuse to attend a conference?

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 11:26am BST

"So there is truth in the Archbishop of Canterbury's linkage."

Ummmm...no. There is a statement--without any evidential backing...from an individual with a vested interest in the situation that this is so.

In addition, of course, correlation is not causation. Should there be anti-Christian events in the Sudan area, there would be no hard evidence that they are caused by anything the rest of the Anglican Communion does. Even if those who perpetrate these events say that is the cause, why should we believe them? It is just as likely they would have found some other excuse for their actions. The situation in that area is primarily economic and political in foundation, and religion is used merely as window dressing.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 11:31am BST

Perhaps the next Lambeth Conference should be held in Sudan or Uganda or Nigeria, since it seems to be Africans who are controlling the trajectory of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Lionel Deimel on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:21pm BST

I seem to see a profound moral irony at work here. Many African churches have endorsed, encouraged and in some cases actively participated in the persecution of LGBT people and that was fine. But now they are afraid that the treatment they have meted out to others is about to rebound on themselves. The solution? The C of E must continue to marginalise LGBT Christians so that homophobic Christians in African countries will not be exposed to risk from homophobes of other religions.

An alternative analysis might go something like this. It is precisely because homophobia is not compatible with the gospel that it eventually produces bitter fruit for those who practise it as well as those against whom it is directed. Indeed how could it be otherwise since God has bound all our lives together. As long as homophobia is tolerated and allowed to flourish whether at home or abroad it will continue to cause harm not just to LGBT individuals but indirectly to their families, communities, churches and the societies of which they are a part. Therefore anything we can do to resist and dismantle it is in the best interests of us all.

Posted by: Jane Charman on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 3:18pm BST

It is the homophobia of the African bishops and African Christians that needs to be addressed!

I do not accept that my beautiful relationship causes murder or that I should sacrifice it and live in lonely misery (also economic discomfort) because it would save the lives of bigots in Africa. I can't believe that if TEC, Canada, and CoE suddenly cast out all of their LGBT members, that there would be peace in Africa!

What is particularly disgusting is that the conflict in Sudan has been going on for 50 years and instead of working the real problems on behalf or their people, the Anglican bishops are engaged using the misery as an excuse to inflict their hateful agenda on the rest of the Anglicans.

Finally, TEC is very active in South Sudan. They are not rejecting our help because of their homophobia. This proves to me that the ABC is being played.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 4:05pm BST

"Perhaps the next Lambeth Conference should be held in Sudan or Uganda or Nigeria, since it seems to be Africans who are controlling the trajectory of the Anglican Communion."

Simpler, really, to relocate Canterbury to Uganda. Then we could really get about driving the scapegoats - the LGBT community - out into the wilderness.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 5:05pm BST

Deng Bol: "We must be mindful of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world when taking decisions"

Have these Sudanese (among other African) bishops shown the *slightest sign* of being compassionately mindful of their LGBT brothers and sisters in their OWN parts of the world?

Beyond that, I'm too angry to say anything else except "ITA" w/ most of the comments here. I refuse to be dictated to by trigger-happy (Jesus-ignoring) hostage-takers!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 9:40pm BST

The Leader article: "The assumption that Christianity and Western decadence are cut from the same cloth has long plagued the Church’s relationships with its neighbours in Africa…"

It seems the church is caught between two cultural norms here and is suffering on both ends; deservedly in both cases, I'm afraid.

On one hand, the homophobic bigotry that the church itself fostered throughout much of our history is said to be rebounding on ourselves as Africans understand "that Christianity and Western decadence are cut from the same cloth."

Meanwhile, here in the west, the same can be said in reverse: there seems to be a deeply ingrained understanding that 'Christianity and the murderous homophobia in Africa (and many places elsewhere) are cut from the same cloth.'

When we try to evangelize the faith amongst our peers, we are immediately met with (at best) polite tolerance and (at worst) outright hostility: "how can you continue to be members of a 'faith' that would engage in such hate in Africa and elsewhere; hate which is just more of what we have come to expect from your long history of evil."

For these folk, Christianity in general and Anglicanism in particular have already been stained and our long history of bloodshed and hate has simply continued in Africa.

The association makes most un-churched in the west want to have nothing to do with our Church. In my experience, they all ask: "How can you associate yourself with such incredible evil? Why would you want to besmirch yourself with such hate?" These people, too, see the church here and the church in Africa as cut from the same cloth; and they want nothing of it.

Their ears are just as closed as those in Africa; our continued failure to recognize love when we know it has (in part) been the closing of those ears. How are we to open them again if we tremble before and conspire with such evil?

Posted by: Paul C on Friday, 11 April 2014 at 9:56pm BST

I can report that here in New Zealand, many people are perplexed by the ABC's seeming inadvertent consequentialism - in his suggestion that the Church of England pulls back on any affirmation of Same-Sex monogamous partnerships - in order to appease African thugs who would kill Christians in their own countries as a direct response. This seems naive, to say the least.

The churches in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya have already criminalised same-sex relationships in their countries - by direct association with the implementation of new laws against them. Is that not enough for would-be murderers of Gay people and other Christians in Africa? The local Anglican Church is already obedient to the requirement of a Gay-free Church in their own country.

Those Churches are also holding the Church of England and other Western Anglican Churches to ransom, by threatening to boycott us and to form their own Gay-free Church in the Global South. What more should we do in the way of appeasement?

Should we forsake our understanding of the Gospel inclusiveness that Jesus was crucified for?

Jesu, mercy; Mary, pray!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 12 April 2014 at 4:13am BST

"the conflict in Sudan has been going on for 50 years and instead of working the real problems on behalf or their people"

That's really a very unfair and ignorant comment. The Anglican bishops of Sudan and South Sudan are and always have been in the forefront of working for peace and reconciliation and addressing "the real problems on behalf of their people", often at great personal risk. Disagree with them on homosexuality if you wish, but please don't throw such cheap jibes at them.

John Ashworth, Juba, South Sudan

Posted by: John Ashworth on Saturday, 12 April 2014 at 6:36am BST

"Disagree with them on homosexuality if you wish, but please don't throw such cheap jibes at them."

They are blaming some of the killing on western tolerance, when they are homophobic and have laws against LGBT people. Apparently, at least one of them said something the the ABC to the effect that "we need your help and couldn't take it if you do SSM." Talk about cheap emotional blackmail when the bigger picture has nothing to do with LGBT people.

TEC is there. South Sudan is accepting our help. I've supported some of the activity from afar (being gay, I'm not about to go there, and I have a ministry in another country). And there is a Sudanese community here in Colorado and we housed one of the bishops for awhile.

Sorry, I'm not ignorant, I am actually connected to some extent. I just think that after MLK and Desmond Tutu that we should all have a more enlightened view of justice and the social gospel. Because it's one thing to disagree, it's quite another to do injustice and insistence that others do injustice.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 12 April 2014 at 3:52pm BST

Jane Charman makes an important point.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Saturday, 12 April 2014 at 5:48pm BST

As Jim Naughton points out in another article, a lot of human rights organizations have looked into the various massacres in Africa and none have attributed the murders to gay friendly churches in the US or anywhere else.

So much for the moral arguments.

A lot of upset was caused over this untruth. I'm sure it's true that Justin was told that gay inclusion was the cause, but Justin should listen to more Jazz, because "It Ain't Necessarily So."

What seems possible is that certain people used the murders to further their anti-gay agenda. Woe to them.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 3:27am BST
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